Intelligent Design

ID as “dead science”

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I just received a notice from the Metanexus listserve regarding the spring lecture series sponsored by the Center for the Study of Science and Religion (CSSR) at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. It looks as though Philip Kitcher, a prominent philosopher of science at Columbia University, is taking a different tack in the science wars. Recognizing he has no case to make when it comes to demarcation criteria, he’s decided to argue that ID is an instance of dead science that should remain dead, after which he’ll outline what he thinks follows for religious belief from this state of affairs.

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006, 6:30-8:00

Darwin, Design, and the Future of Faith

Professor Kitcher will suggest that the best way to understand Intelligent Design is to see it as a piece of dead science. He will try to show why it died, why it should remain dead, why he will kill it again if necessary, why others should take up the task of killing it, why scientific cleansing of dead science is an intellectual imperative, and what consequences for religious belief follow from its death. [This paragraph slightly embellished for clarity. –WmAD]

Location: Davis Auditorium [Columbia University]

Philip Kitcher, Ph.D.
John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Professor Kitcher’s areas of specialization include philosophy of science, biology, and mathematics. His interests focus on general questions in the philosophy of science, problems in the philosophy of biology, and issues in the philosophy of mathematics. He is currently interested in the ethical and political constraints on scientific research, the evolution of altruism and morality, and the apparent conflict between science and religion.

His work attempts to connect these questions with the central philosophical issues of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, with the history of philosophy and with the practice and findings of the sciences, past and present. His numerous publications include: The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human Possibilities, Science, Truth and Democracy, and In Mendel’s Mirror: Philosophy Reflections on Biology. Professor Kitcher also serves on the administrative council of the Columbia University Center for Bioethics.

9 Replies to “ID as “dead science”

  1. 1
    Joseph says:

    How does one calculate the half-life of something that goes from “pseudo-science” to “dead science” without passing “Go”?

  2. 2
    Scott says:

    Let the New Mccarthyism© and Radical Censorship Machine™ Press Onward!

    “Don’t bother me with facts like:

    – CSI
    – Digital Code along the spine of DNA
    – A fossil record which demonstrates the abrupt appearance of all major phyla
    – Irreducibly Complex molecular machinery
    – A naturalistic mechanism which has no creative power
    – etc… etc… etc…

    … I’m comfortable in my little bubble of ignorance and I don’t want to ruffle the feathers of my peers who I’m trying to remain on good terms with.”

    grrrrrrrrrrrr

  3. 3
    DaveScot says:

    I hope Kitcher will be sensitive to the recent goings on in Alabama and keep inflammatory rhetoric to a minimum. I especially hope he doesn’t believe dead science should be burned in effigy. 😛

  4. 4
    Paul Nelson says:

    With apologies to the Pythons (Holy Grail, “Bring out your dead” scene):

    “I’m not dead yet. In fact I’m feeling much better.”

    Or maybe, Bill, you and I and Sal and Scott and the rest of our little crew — are ZOMBIES.

    Zombie science. I like it. But Kitcher can’t be trying to prove that zombies really exist, can he? Wild times at Columbia Univ. I can see the NY Post headline: “PHIL PROF DISCOVERS ACTUAL ZOMBIES,” featuring a sidebar interview with Behe’s wife, who testifies that while Mike may be a zombie, he still eats regular food like normal people. Zombie lore must be re-evaluated…seems they don’t thrive only on the flesh of the living. Hm.

  5. 5
    Scott says:

    All aboard the intellectual Dishonesty Band-wagon®.

    Unbelievable.

  6. 6
    dougmoran says:

    from http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/01/03/kitcher.html:

    “I shall try to show that the scientific challenge to religion is much more serious than those who seek comparability typically appreciate.” – Dr. Phil (Kitcher)

    I agree that many religious folk who have acquiesced to the idea that science is no threat to their religion don’t give much consideration to potential deeper meanings. But there is a reason. Case in point: religious leaders accepting Darwinian evolution as compatible with their faith. The real issue here is not the “scientific challenge to religion” that Dr. Phil claims is so serious. At the core of this issue is something Dr. Phil might never come to understand – that because of their religious faith, these people don’t see themselves in conflict with science at all. In other words, no scientific finding can threaten their religion, because their religious faith is not based on science.

    Is it possible Phil doesn’t realize science simply can’t challenge religious faith? If not, why? And if so, it’s sad to see a man of such obvious intellectual capacity resort to dishonesty just to make a buck and self-justify his worldview.

    The true enemies of science are ignorance, dishonesty, and prejudice. Perhaps we could all benefit if Dr. Phil were to focus his intellectual prowess on removing these from our research labs and universities, starting with his employer.

  7. 7
    Red Reader says:

    As an unrepentent looker-oner-of-the-bright-sider….
    While Dr. Kitcher is wasting his intellectual aptitude on tripe of this sort, he is not focusing on real science and real science is better for it.

    Plus, he’s writing his own epitaph:
    “Here lies another of the great morons of the 19th century.”

  8. 8
    crandaddy says:

    As far as I’m concerned, the only dead things about this whole matter are the same old arguments that Darwinists like to invoke over and over and over…..

    Maybe Dr. Kitcher has come to realize that claims that ID is untestable repackaged creationism won’t fly, so he’s trying a different approach. I think this may be a sign of progress.

  9. 9

    For something that’s supposedly already dead, he seems to be directing a lot of energy to making sure it’s dead.

    “It’s not stunned – it’s just dead” – to add a second Python misquotation.

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